22/06/2007

A Year at St Yorick's (by Adrian Plass)

I do enjoy Adrian Plass's books. They're mostly written with typically British humour: full of irony, one-liners, and bad puns. He pokes fun at himself and the church in a gentle way that offers wise, often profound insights into life and faith.

A Year at St Yorick's is written in the style of a monthly church magazine, over a complete year. Each edition features a letter from the rather wordy and old-fashioned vicar, an interview by a hopeful journalist who has little idea what should go in an article, and a question-and-answer section. Then there are notices, children''s corner items, letters to the editor, poems, drawings and more.

It's a caricature, of course - that's almost a given with Adrian Plass - but close enough to reality to strike chords with many. Each edition has an increasing number of typing errors and misprints, some of which are extremely clever; many are easy to miss at a quick glance, so it's worth reading everything, even the list of weekly services which (one would expect) would be the same each month. ...

No doubt there are people who would take offence at this, just as some of the fictional parishioners of St Yorick's take offence at some of what is written about them and their church in the magazines. But it's not meant to upset anyone. It's light-hearted, clever, and helps people to see the amusing side of their Christian culture, and how it can look to those outside.

The author is not as well-known in the USA as he is in the UK, and his books are often out of print there, though usually available second-hand.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys Adrian Plass, or who would like a magazine-style book that can be read in short snippets. But it's not as brilliantly funny as 'The Sacred Diary...'.

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